Imagine getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, drinking your coffee and scrolling through Facebook before heading out the door, only to discover that your car has gone missing.
It's a nightmare and a costly inconvenience that 52,000 people in Ontario alone face yearly (an average of roughly 1,000 per week).
According to the Ontario Provincial Police, it is a $600,000-a-year industry in Canada.
Furthermore, police in Peel Region, an hour west of Toronto, estimated that 80 to 85 percent of stolen vehicles have direct ties to organized crime and are destined for export (with the majority bound for West Africa).
Fob communication relay hacking
Fob hacking has become the most popular method for sophisticated thieves to steal cars; however, it remains largely misunderstood by the public, though its application is relatively simple. It employs equipment to amplify the communication signal between your fob and your vehicle, fooling the vehicle into thinking the fob is near the car door or trunk.
That means the thief can quickly unlock and start the vehicle without drawing too much attention or appearing out of place to any unwitting witnesses.
So, with would-be criminals possessing this level of sophistication, what can ordinary citizens do to prevent them from stealing their vehicles?
Well, more than you might think, and with a smaller budget than you might expect.
The low-hanging fruit would be to equip your car with measures that either scare off thieves or prevent them from approaching it for fear of being caught.
Steering wheel locks, also known as clubs, would prevent anyone from simply hopping in your car and driving away, adding a layer of complexity that would make your vehicle undesirable.
A physical car alarm, in conjunction with something like a wheel lock, would make you a worst-case scenario for criminals.
Your home's deterrents
While making your car unappealing to criminals should be your priority, it also doesn't hurt to add some flair to your home, discouraging carjackers from approaching your vehicle in the first place.
Adding items such as wi-fi cameras (like Blink or Ring) and motion-detecting lights creates an uneasy sense of dread in thieves, who must weigh the risk of being caught on camera against the potential gains. Because being identified could be disastrous in that line of "work," it is likely to cause them to continue walking.
Fight sophistication with sophistication
The best way to prevent high-tech thievery is to understand and respond directly; in this case, simply jamming or dimming the signal from your fob can deter thieves from intercepting and amplifying it for their gain.
This is as simple as storing all your key fobs in a metal container when not in use, with the metal obstructing the smart fob's radio transmissions. Alternatively, you can find inexpensive RFID pouches with a metal mesh inside that can prevent a key fob from transmitting or receiving radio signals.